If bloodsports are your thing, then you can pick up a ticket to the Calcio Storico — the final match takes place on June 24th
The Quarter of Santa Croce is found on the southeast edge of the historic centre, running along the bank of the river Arno. Originally built in the Middle Ages outside the second set of city walls, it was a hub for leatherworkers — and it’s still a great place for shopping. Besides that, this Quarter is host to Piazza della Signoria, Palazzo Vecchio and the Uffizi Gallery, so it’s clearly a must-visit for any trip to Florence.
The name of the square comes from its main church, the Basilica of Santa Croce. Designed by Arnolfo di Cambio towards the end of the 13th century, its polychrome marble façade echoes that of the Cathedral de Santa Maria del Fiore in the Piazza del Duomo — another building which da Cambio had a hand in.
The vast piazza in which the church stands has traditionally served as a fairground and even a playing field for a famous no-holds-barred soccer game, the Calcio Storico. In this annual event the four neighbourhoods of Florence compete for a Palio: an entire beef of Chianina. Sucker-punches and head kicks are frowned upon, but head butting, punching, elbowing and choking are all allowed, to the delight of the audience. The matches go for 50 minutes with no interruptions, even if players are being stretchered off the pitch.
Bonfire of Vanities
The Piazza de Santa Croce was also a hot spot for the burning of objects condemned by religious authorities as sinful. Objects commonly burnt included vanity items such as mirrors, cosmetics and dresses, but also books and artworks that offended the sensibilities of the church.
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